Student march draws attention to climate inaction

Teens leave school to protest political stalemate on climate change

Students gathered downtown Friday in efforts to put pressure on lawmakers for climate reform

Josh Glucksman

Students gathered downtown Friday in efforts to put pressure on lawmakers for climate reform

At 9:52 am on Friday, Sep. 19, over 50 New Trier students boarded the Metra train and headed down to Chicago to participate in the Global Youth Climate Strike.

With between 1,500 and 3,000 participants, the Chicago strike was one of thousands of strikes occurring in over 150 countries across the world.

Inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old environmentalist, the strikes were in demand of climate action in the upcoming United Nations emergency climate summit.

Aiden Greiff, a junior who participated in the strike both this year and last year, was thrilled to see an increase in the number of students attending the strike and recognizing its importance .

“The main issue is putting pressure on our lawmakers to change laws and get things moving,” explained Greiff.

Coursing through the strike was a sense of urgency about the problems facing our environment that has been missing from political dialogue for decades. The strike acted as a physical reminder that climate change is not an issue this generation is willing to push to the backburners.

Nora Duncan, a sophomore, maintained   that policy action regarding climate change is a prerequisite to any form of effective social change.

“To me, climate change is the most important issue the world faces in this day and age. We can fix social injustice, we can fix our gun laws and stop mass shootings, we can fix poverty, but none of those issues matter if we don’t have a world or a future to apply them to,” said Duncan.

Although striking increases pressure towards policy change, it also carries with it a strong message of solidarity and strength that other forms of activism may not, emphasized junior Chelsea Lu.

“The act of striking in America, as teens, and as the next voting generation just demonstrates to policy makers the issues that matter to us. They will be forced to confront climate policy and develop their own ideas to get appeal from voters,” said Lu.

Helping to lead both New Trier students as well as the rest of Chicago was senior Aiden Lane. After helping to lead the strike last year, Lane joined the ILYCS (Illinois Youth Climate Strike) and became the finance director.

While Lane has taken tremendous strides in helping to lead change, he encourages other students to take any positive action no matter how small.

“You don’t have to do everything at once, start off making one small difference in your life, and then you will naturally start making more and more changes,” said Lane.

Despite the strike requiring students to miss nearly the whole day of school, most teachers at New Trier were overwhelmingly supportive of students’ participation. Rebecca Lerner, a junior, felt supported not only by her teachers, but also by her advisor.

“My teachers were all really excited for me, and my advisor even texted me and the girls in our advisory saying how proud she was that we were standing up for what we believe in,” said Lerner.

While teachers were individually supportive of students’ engagement, many students still felt the school could be doing more to combat climate change.

“I think New Trier tries to stay neutral, but in this day and age I think more people have to stand up and take sides on issues. So New Trier could do more than it’s doing,” Greiff explained.

Eyllah Babbitt, a junior, added that the steps the school has taken to improve in other areas are proof of its ability to become more environmentally friendly as well.

“Let’s take security for example, I mean they really increased the rules, and tighten up on everything, I feel they can do the same exact thing with recycling and with environmental issues,” said Babbitt.

Although progress still needs to be made Lane highlighted the school’s willingness to improve and its forward steps.

“The school has recently started to make an effort at being more environmentally friendly, but they started far behind and still have a lot more work to do,” said Lane.